Rebekah Lim

rebekah lim

Rebekah Lim, 30, made a career switch from undertaking research in history to joining the Singapore Red Cross (SRC), as the phrase 'blessed to be a blessing' was ingrained in her since childhood. Another impetus to join SRC was her compassion for the vulnerable. As Rebekah was born with a medical condition that impaired her vision, she empathises with persons with disabilities. She shares how joining the International Services team has enriched not only the lives of others but herself as well.

There is no greater fulfilment than finding one's purpose in life. Some people have the good fortune of knowing what they want to do in life, while others spend ages trying to find their life purpose. 

A year after working as a researcher with the National Heritage Board, Rebekah Lim, 30, realised that she was not content with conducting research for the rest of her life. Fortunately for Rebekah, a little soul-searching guided her to find her true calling in life, by joining Singapore Red Cross (SRC) in 2017.

Sharing why she made the switch to join the charitable organisation, she says, “I grew up hearing the phrase ‘blessed to be a blessing’ from my family and church friends. This has become a motto I truly believe in and embrace over the years."

Rebekah has literally ‘walked the talk’. Being blessed with the gift of singing, she has been volunteering her time to serve in the church for many years.

The virtue of serving without expecting anything in return has been deeply ingrained in her core beliefs since youth, which influenced her career choice as well.

Passion with a heart

Besides being a blessing to others, Rebekah was also inspired to join SRC since one of its core values—compassion—resonates with her. 

Rebekah's compassion and empathy for others who are disadvantaged stem from the fact that she was born with a medical condition called congenital nystagmus, which weakens her retinal muscles and impairs her vision. The condition hampered her ability to read from afar and participate in games and activities in school. As she was considered a person with special needs, she had low self-esteem during her teenage years.

Fortunately, with the love and strong support from her family and friends, Rebekah navigated through her struggles and gained confidence. 

Her personal experience spurs her to work harder for others who are vulnerable.

“Compassion spurs me to be more selfless and to put myself in the shoes of others,” she says.

Rebuilding communities overseas

Now, as the Acting Head of the International Services department, Rebekah manages the International Services team in SRC. Her team is responsible for mounting overseas disaster humanitarian response operations, identifying recovery and rebuilding projects, allocating the funds raised and overseeing projects from conception to completion. The team also develops capacity-building programmes that train and equip volunteers, partners and overseas communities with the knowledge, expertise and skills to respond in the aftermath of disasters. 

To bring these projects to fruition, Rebekah's team coordinates projects with overseas partners from different cultures and backgrounds who often embrace a different set of values and beliefs. Yet, with lives at stake, they reach a compromise that benefits the disaster-stricken communities. 

“Sometimes it may be difficult to understand our partners' perspectives on a certain idea or programme. But we can't impose our ideas on people or expect them to do things our way. We must find a common ground where both sides can agree and work together to bring help to those in need,” she highlights. 

Witnessing resilience in a young girl

Working in the International Services team has given her opportunities to travel overseas. Rebekah recounted an experience of meeting a young girl who was born with physical disabilities in a shelter project in the Philippines years ago that left an indelible mark on her memory. As the girl's family could not afford a wheelchair for her, her father made a special wooden chair to carry her around. 

“Her hands had no physical strength, but she trained herself to write by holding a pencil in her mouth. When she excitedly showed me that she wrote her name with her mouth, I couldn't hold back my tears. We have so much to learn from this girl. Despite her disability and the fact that she did not have much materially, she found joy and the motivation to overcome life's challenges,” she recalls. 

Staying relevant amid the pandemic

The past two years have been challenging for Rebekah and her team as the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed the deployment of volunteers overseas. Though many virtual meetings and events were carried out, she lamented the lack of human touch. 

To stay relevant and to make the best of the situation, the team gleans insights from the experiences and best practices of other National Societies such as the Italian Red Cross and the Indonesian Red Cross, in their COVID-19 responses through a series of online sharing sessions. 

In addition, the team also banded together to orchestrate a major COVID-19 response in April 2021, supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and oxygen supply to India, which was undergoing its worst outbreak at the time. 

A fulfilling role

Rebekah is glad to have chosen a vocation in the social service sector. 

“It is a privilege to see that our work improves lives. It also gives me the opportunity to introspect and become a better person,” she says.

She derives much positivity from those around her. 

“Many of my colleagues and volunteers go beyond their responsibilities to help someone in need. A volunteer who accompanied me on the trip to the Philippines raised funds to purchase a wheelchair for the girl with disabilities in the Philippines and asked me to give it to her on my next trip,” she recalls warmly.

Rebekah hopes more people choose social services as a career and join SRC.

“Come join the SRC family! You will not only find joy and meaning in your career but also get to know many cool and fun-loving humanitarians! SRC values people, your time and your life,” she says.

By Yatin Pawa, Volunteer
Copyedited by Michael Gutierrez, Volunteer


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